Rep. Steve Scalise, after saying since April that he'd be getting his coronavirus shot "soon," has gotten his first Pfizer jab and says he recommends other people get theirs too because the vaccines are "safe and effective."
But the Louisiana Republican denied that he waited because of political reasons, and he doesn't support mandates requiring the vaccination, reports news outlet NOLA.
"Especially with the Delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it," Scalise said. "When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospital with Delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works."
Scalise rolled up his sleeve at an Ochsner clinic in Jefferson Parish on Sunday for his shot. He also pointed out that he had supported funding that allowed the Trump administration to fast-track the shots through Operation Warp Speed.
"It was heavily tested on thousands of people before the FDA gave its approval," Scalise commented. "Some people believe that it might have been rushed. That’s not the case. I’ve been vocal about that for months. I know their process has high standards. The FDA approval process is probably the most respected in the world."
Hospitals nationwide are reporting their highest numbers of COVID-19 patients in months as the more transmissible Delta strain of the virus spreads.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a Senate committee hearing Tuesday that the strain accounts for an estimated 83% of the new cases being reported in the country, and in some areas where vaccination rates are low, that percentage is even higher, reports The New York Times.
The two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been shown to be effective against the variant, but there have been questions raised about Johnson & Johnson's single-dose shot. Less than half of the total U.S. population is fully inoculated, records show.
Scalise said he waited to get his shots after he tested positive for COVID antibodies and thought he had some immunity from that. He said he believes he had a mild case of the virus at some time.
But Scalise said he doesn't "think people should be shamed" into getting a shot and that the matter should be one of personal choice.
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